NFL Week 14
Follow along here for frequent updates and developments from all of Sunday’s NFL games. Check back after “Sunday Night Football” for a look at the biggest moments and trends to watch.
Sunday’s late-game drama wasn’t just confined to the early contests and unfortunately for the Steelers, they weren’t quite able to follow up the Dolphins with their own miraculous sequence. The Cowboys, meanwhile, needed overtime but eventually were able to get a huge win over the Eagles.
Dallas wide receiver Amari Cooper caught his third touchdown pass of the day in the extra session — off a deflection — giving his squad a 29-23 victory that puts it very much in the driver’s seat for a division title. At 8-5, the Cowboys are two games ahead of the Eagles and the disintegrating Redskins with three games left in the regular season.
The touchdown capped a 14-play drive for Dallas, which never let Philadelphia get the ball in overtime. Cooper finished with 10 catches for 217 yards, while his quarterback, Dak Prescott, set a Cowboys record with 42 completions and a personal career high with 455 passing yards.
The game got off to a slow start, with Dallas leading 6-0 at halftime and 9-6 after three quarters, but the teams traded a total of four touchdowns over the final four and a half minutes. For their part, the Steelers took a 14-10 halftime lead over Oakland into the fourth quarter before things started to go surprisingly awry, with unheralded Raiders tight ends Lee Smith and Derek Carrier scoring touchdowns to give their squad a 24-21 lead with 21 seconds left.
Pittsburgh then used a hook-and-ladder play to get in field goal range with five seconds left at Oakland. But kicker Chris Boswell slipped and his field goal attempt was blocked, giving the Raiders quite an upset.
It was just the third win of the season for Oakland and the third loss in a row for Pittsburgh, which is now 7-5-1 and clinging to first place in the AFC North by a half-game over the Ravens. In addition to Baltimore, three other AFC teams have 7-6 records (the Dolphins, Colts and Titans), meaning that the Steelers, who next play the Patriots and Saints, are suddenly in danger of missing the playoffs altogether.
More than setting the stage: The endings of two early games absolutely took your breath away. First, there was yet another overtime game in which the Kansas City Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes’s magical performance, edged out the Baltimore Ravens.
But it was the Miami Dolphins, with a wild 34-33 walk-off win that involved two laterals with seven seconds left, who beat the New England Patriots, proving the Miami curse is real. Trailing by five points, they won with a touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Kenny Stills who lateraled to DeVante Parker who lateraled back to Kenyan Drake. It covered 69 yards and saw Rob Gronkowski, who was playing defense rather than Devin McCourty, presumably to help stop a potential Hail Mary pass, stumble as Drake scored.
“I did sucky,” Gronkowski said. “Got to be ready for anything. It’s football. The way it ended . . . it sucked.”
The Dolphins pulled off the longest game-winning touchdown with no time left in regulation in the Super Bowl era (per ESPN). The Patriots have now lost five of their last six games in Miami.
In Kansas City, Mahomes worked his usual razzle-dazzle, at one point throwing across his body for a long completion on a fourth-and-nine play, and he helped take the Ravens into overtime.
Once there, Kansas City, the No. 1 offense in the league, got past Baltimore, the league’s top defense, with a field goal, winning 27-24. Lamar Jackson was hurt on the Ravens’ final drive, with Robert Griffin III failing to connect on two passes.
More than a little for Kittle: Two hundred ten yards receiving would make for a very good month for almost any tight end. George Kittle did that in the first half alone against the Broncos.
The 49ers’ tight end did his damage on seven catches, adding a touchdown on an 85-yard play. The highest yardage mark for Kittle’s position in a single game since 1960 is 214, accomplished by Denver’s Shannon Sharpe in 2002 (per Nick Wagoner).
Early exit: When the Steelers took the field for the second half against the Raiders, Ben Roethlisberger was nowhere to be seen. The veteran Pittsburgh quarterback was reported to have suffered a rib injury late in the first half, and he was listed as questionable to return. Roethlisberger eventually made his way back to the sideline, but he remained there as backup quarterback Josh Dobbs played in his place until late in the game, when Roethlisberger again took the field.
Pack on track: No one can say that the Packers’ interim coach Joe Philbin wasn’t aggressive in his first head coaching gig since being fired by the Dolphins in the middle of the 2015 season.
Taking over for Mike McCarthy, who was fired last weekend as the Packers’ head coach, Philbin boldly dropped the challenge flag twice in his first 83 seconds back as the head coach. And both times the rulings stood in the fastest instance of a team using both challenges since teams got the freedom to challenge in 1999, according to NFL Research. The Packers were rolling, though, and moved to 5-7-1 with a 34-20 victory over the Falcons.
NFC East showdowns: Two games were set to lend clarity to the NFC East standings, and one team was surprised to learn that it was without its star receiver. Not that it mattered much for the Giants, who rolled over the Redskins, but they learned Saturday that Odell Beckham Jr. would miss the game with a bruised quadriceps.
Later Sunday, the game between the Eagles and Cowboys will take us a step closer to knowing who will win the NFC East and the Cowboys, who haven’t played since riding their defense to a 13-10 victory over the Saints on Nov. 29, face a tantalizing problem.
With Sean Lee getting closer to playing after missing the last four games and seven overall with hamstring problems, rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has performed more than capably in his place, leading the Cowboys (and ranking fourth in the NFL) with 102 tackles.
Do the Cowboys play the hot hand or return to Lee when he’s ready to play? There’s no debate, according to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “Sean Lee, make no mistake about it, when he’s right, there’s nobody better,” he said Tuesday. “He’s such an integral part of adjusting on the field and making the big play.”
The Cowboys will punt on the issue this week, with Lee already declared out. For what it’s worth, the Cowboys are 6-1 when he’s out (including the Nov. 11 victory in Philadelphia). Whatever the team decides, Jones admitted that “it’s a great problem to have.”
Texans tumble: Houston’s nine-game winning streak ends at the hands of Andrew Luck and the Colts, who were 24-21 winners and improved to 7-6. Luck passed for 399 yards, 199 of which went to T.Y. Hilton.
An angry Winston: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and center Ryan Jensen are not getting along on the sideline.
It didn’t get any better for Tampa Bay, with the Saints winning 28-14. New Orleans has not been swept by Tampa Bay since the 2007 season.
Browns, Jets win: The Browns won their fifth game of the season, beating the Panthers 26-20. It was Carolina’s fifth straight loss. The Jets won their fourth game of the season, stopping the Bills 27-23.
What lies ahead for Kareem Hunt? The former Chiefs running back faces an uncertain football future after going unclaimed on waivers. (Read more.)
NFL coaching news and buzz: The losses pile up, the season draws nearer to an end and change is imminent. Who’s staying, who’s going? (Read more.)
Is change coming? Some owners want to revisit how the league conducts investigations. (Read more.)
Skins’ path to a new stadium may go through Capitol Hill: The Redskins and D.C. are working with Congress to slip a provision for a new stadium into a spending bill. (Read more.)
There’s life in Philly: The Eagles reminded everyone that they’re not dead yet. (Read more.)
Guess who’s No. 1: There’s a change atop the power rankings, with the Rams on the rise. (Read more.)
Conner out: The Steelers got bad news early in the week, when running back James Conner was declared out against the Raiders because of an ankle injury.
No Lee: Sean Lee (hamstring), defensive tackle David Irving (ankle), tight end Geoff Swaim (wrist) and receiver Tavon Austin (groin) will not play against the Eagles. Philly linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf), cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) are out.
Watkins on ice: Sammy Watkins is likely out until the postseason after he “tweaked” his foot, according to Coach Andy Reid, in practice last week. That’s why the team signed Kelvin Benjamin last week.
Gordon out again: Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (knee) and cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) will miss the game against the Bengals. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is doubtful after missing time last week because of the premature birth of his daughter, who also has a heart defect that will require surgery in a few months, in Nebraska. The surgeon best suited to helping his daughter is in Omaha, so he has been commuting to see his wife, son and another daughter there.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion), tackle Cordy Glenn (back), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle) and cornerback Tony McRae (concussion) will not play.
Titans tackle out a while: Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin is expected to miss a few weeks after injuring his knee in Thursday’s victory over the Jaguars. He is not expected to need surgery.
Redskins get another bad break: Colt McCoy, the Redskins’ backup quarterback who stepped up when Alex Smith suffered a broken leg Nov. 18, was lost for the rest of the season Monday night. McCoy, who broke his right fibula, was replaced by Mark Sanchez. Meanwhile, concerns grow as Alex Smith’s recovery and future as he battles an infection stemming from the compound fracture of his leg.
Berry gets closer: The Chiefs will be without safety Eric Berry against the Ravens, but believe he will be ready for their big AFC West game Thursday night against the Chargers. Berry has been out since August with a heel injury.